Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia is a lively, charming city, built along the twisting valley of the river Mtkvari, and was for centuries one of the greatest multicultural trading cities along the Silk Road. Elegant 19th century buildings line its leafy boulevards and in the old town, wooden houses with carved overhanging balconies hug the mountainside. Georgians are famed for their hospitality; love of good food and wine and Tbilisi has many good restaurants where you can sample the local cuisine.
Mtskheta is one of Georgia’s most famous towns. The former capital is just a 20-minute drive from Tbilisi and is the one place every Georgian takes their visitors to see. The town was founded 3,000 years ago, but Mtskheta’s main attraction is the marvellous Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. This architectural masterpiece of the early Middle Ages is also known as the burial place of Christ’s mantle and has been named a Unesco World Heritage site.
Gori is another city that’s close to the capital. The name comes from the Georgian word gora meaning a “hill” or a “heap”. The town is located on the main highway of the country that connects the western and eastern parts of Georgia. Gori is also famous for being the birthplace of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Here, you can visit his house-museum, get to know his childhood years and even see his private railway carriage.
Just like Mtskheta, Kutaisi is a former capital and one of the oldest cities in Georgia. Its Unesco World Heritage Site, Bagrati Cathedral, is an 11th-century building that was built during the rule of King Bagrat III. During the various invasions, it was destroyed many times and was entirely reconstructed in 2012. Not far from Bagrati Cathedral, Gelati Monastery was founded in 1106 by King David IV, known as David the Builder. Historically, it was one of the primary cultural centres of the country and was recognised as one of the earliest educational institutions of the state.
Located 157km from Tbilisi and 1,740m above the sea level, this small town was founded by a monk called Stephan, who built a hermitage here. The town’s name, Stepanstsminda is a combination of the two words, “Stephan” and “Saint”. Situated in the Greater Caucasus, the only road that leads to the town offers magnificent views. The town itself is not designed for tourists, but the reason it’s quite popular is because of the beautiful Gergeti Trinity Church, which sits at the base of Mount Kazbegi.
According to archaeological findings, Telavi has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, and it developed into a significant political and administrative town in the centre of the Kakheti region. Telavi is a fascinating place for fans of architecture and design. Since its existence, Kakhetian kings, Russian tsars, Georgian monarchs and Romans have all left their architectural marks. Among its more famous attractions are the old fortress walls, Dzveli Galavani, the fortress of the lord (Batonis Tsikhe) and a 900-year old sycamore tree.